John Tierney

New York Times Columnist and Best-Selling Author of Willpower
John Tierney
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John Tierney has been a New York Times journalist for more than 20 years. He writes a column, Findings, for the paper’s “Science” section, and he previously authored its TierneyLab blog. He is also the author of the New York Times best-seller, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. An excerpt, “Do You Suffer from Decision Fatigue?” ran in the Times Magazine, and the book was named one of Amazon’s “Best Books of 2011.” He believes that self-control and willpower function analogously to muscles, so willpower, while it can be exhausted from overuse, is generally strengthened through exercise. Publisher’s Weekly praised the book as “a very fine work” that is “clear and succinct” as well as “based on solid research,” and President Obama altered his daily schedule in accordance with the principles it laid out.

Best-Selling Author. In addition to Willpower, Tierney is also the author of The Best-Case Scenario Handbook (2002) and the co-author, with Christopher Buckley, of the comic novel, God Is My Broker: A Monk Tycoon Reveals the 7 ½ Laws of Spiritual and Financial Growth (1999).

From 2005–2006, he was a columnist on the Times Op-Ed page, before which he wrote a column about New York, “The Big City,” that ran in the magazine and the “Metro” section from 1994–2002. He also wrote the Political Points column for the Washington bureau. He writes often about social sciences and general controversies in science and medicine, such as the prosecution of doctors for prescribing pain medication. He has written columns on energy, like a $5,000 bet he placed on the price of oil, and about environmental issues, including a much-quoted critique of recycling.

Prior to joining the Times, Tierney was a contributing editor to Discover and Health magazines, a staff writer at Science 81-85 magazine, a reporter for the Washington Star and the Bergen Record, and a free-lance writer for many magazines. His reporting took him to six continents, and he won awards from American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Physics, and the New York Publishers Association.

Tierney started his journalism career as an undergraduate at Yale University, where he was co-editor of the Yale Daily News Magazine.

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Speaker Video

John Tierney: Working Smart & the Science of Business

Working Smarter (and Happier). John Tierney shows audiences how to apply science to the art of business, offering research-based strategies for working smarter and living better. Believing that success is intelligence plus self-control (and self-control was shown to predict grades for students better than even IQ and SAT scores), he has rediscovered the concept of willpower and shares insights for making the most of your time at work. Willpower is a source of mental energy that can be depleted. In fact, making decisions depletes the same source of mental energy as willpower, and once decision fatigue sets in, willpower also goes out the window. Tierney discusses how to focus strength, resist temptation, redirect our lives, be realistic when setting goals, and how to keep faith when we falter. By blending practical wisdom with the best of recent research science, he makes it clear that whatever we seek—from happiness to good health to financial security—we won’t reach without first learning to harness our inherent willpower.

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